Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Section Four
Part 5 of Section 4

Canon Westcott and Dr. Hort have made and followed conjectures equally "destitute of historical foundation," with respect to the Peshito-Syriac text. One of these conjectures relates to some fragments of an old Syriac translation of the Gospels, discovered by the late Dr. W. Cureton, and published by him in 1858. Nothing is known about it, except that it was brought from Egypt to Britain. I have not been able to get a copy, and know it chiefly by a review of it published in 1859, by Prof. Christian Hermansen, of Copenhagen. This is not the place to discuss the peculiarities of that translation. It is sufficient to quote a few words from Mr. Hermansen. He says that the Peshito and this translation "greatly differ" and in "various ways," p. 7; and that there is "a wonderful agreement between this translation and the Cambridge manuscript called D," (p. 21), of which copy Dr. Scrivener, an able judge, says, "It may be said without extravagance, that no set of scriptural records affords a text less probable in itself, or less sustained by any rational principles of external evidence, than that of codex D, of the Latin codices, and (so far as it accords with them) of Cureton's Syriac. (Introduction to N. T. 1883, p. 510.) Dr. Roberts, of Aberdeen, seems to be justified in saying of Dr. Cureton's fragments, "Never, probably, was there in the whole history of critical publications, such a notable example of self-delusion as that under which Dr. Cureton has laboured in this undertaking;" (Dr. R., on the Original Language of Matthew, p. 131); that is, the undertaking to prove that these fragments "more nearly represent the exact words of Matthew himself than any copy yet discovered," (p. 122). And yet Dr. Westcott and Dr. Hort assume that this "Curetonian version of the Gospels" is the first form of the Peshito. Canon Westcott calls it the "Old Syriac," (on Canon, p. 233, note 6.) He says, "It appears to have been afterwards corrected," but "in the absence of an adequate supply of critical materials, it is impossible to construct the history of these recensions in the Syriac," (p. 234.) Notwithstanding these conjectured recensions, he speaks of "the present corrupt state of the text" (p. 240.) One is startled, pained, and almost appalled, by finding that a scholar so highly esteemed as Canon Westcott is, can so violate his own rules; by finding that he not only rejects the admitted testimony of "Churches" to the "Apostolic authority" of the Peshito as it now exists, but even invents and follows mere fictions, and these of a kind fitted and seemingly intended to destroy its reputation. Can it be that this amazing inconsistency and impropriety is in some degree due to a fact which Canon Westcott mentions in one of his notes, when speaking of the Peshito? The note is this (in his work on the Canon, p. 238,) "In reference to the phraseology of the Peshito, it is worthy of remark that Episcopus is preserved in one place only, Acts xx. 28. Elsewhere it is kashisho (presbyter) except in 1 Pet. ii. 25." The Peshito has there "care-taker." Dr. Westcott's note directs special attention to the fact that the Peshito has omitted in most places the word, which, by being adopted as the name of the prelates who rule the Church of England, gives them some show, and but a deceptive show, of scriptural origin. It cannot be forgotten that Dr. Westcott has stated that the omission of the word bishop from passages in the Peshito, is a fact "worthy of remark."
Drs. Westcott and Hort published in 1881, six years after Dr. Westcott's fourth edition of his work on the Canon, dated 1875, a long and mysteriously made Introduction to a new Greek text, full of strange changes. Both editors are responsible for the principles, arguments, and conclusions set forth in this Introduction, but it was "written by Dr. Hort" (Int. p. 18.) The following suggestions made by them are founded wholly on imagination, without one word of proof. "The popular Peshito version, till recently, has been known only in the form it finally received by an evidently authoritative revision........An Old Syriac must have existed as well as an Old Latin. Within the last few years the surmise has been verified. An imperfect Old Syriac copy of the Gospels, assigned to the fifth century, was found by Cureton among MSS. brought to the British Museum from Egypt in 1842, and was published by him in 1858." This is assumed by the writers to be the Peshito "in its original form," and is said to "render the comparatively late and revised character" of the Peshito, "a matter of certainty" (p. 84.) Upon this dream of the imagination, continued references are made to the Peshito as "not coming up to the requirements of criticism," etc. (pp. 84, 92, 136, 156, 158-9.) Sadly often have "false witnesses risen up." But it must be deemed an alarming proof of the diseased state of biblical criticism, if we find even leading men indulging, not only in wild fancies, but even in false accusations against the most truthful of witnesses. The late Dean Burgon in his work, "The Revision Revised, 1883," pp. 273-8, said in reference to these conjectures, "Not a shadow of truth is forthcoming that any such Recension as Dr. Hort imagines, ever took place at all." He has, "1stly, assumed a 'Syrian Recension'; 2ndly, invented the cause of it; and 3rdly, dreamed the process by which it was carried into execution." After reminding Dr. Hort that Bishop Ellicott has said that, "It is no stretch of the imagination to suppose that portions of the Peshito might have been in the hands of the Apostle John," the Dean said, "The abominably corrupt document known as 'Cureton's Syriac,' is by another bold hypothesis, assumed to be the only surviving specimen of the unrevised version, and is thenceforth invariably designated by these authors as the Old Syriac." "Not a shadow of reason is produced why we should suppose, 1st, that such a Revision took place, and 2ndly, that all our existing manuscripts represent it." "These editors even assure us that 'Cureton's Syriac' renders the comparatively late and 'revised' character of the Syriac Vulgate," i.e., the Peshito "a matter of certainty. The very city in which it underwent revision, can, it seems, be fixed with 'tolerable certainty.' Can Dr. Hort be serious?"

Messages In This Thread
Section Four - by Larry Kelsey - 03-03-2004, 06:38 AM
Part 2 - by Larry Kelsey - 03-04-2004, 07:21 AM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 03-05-2004, 06:09 AM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 03-05-2004, 07:01 AM
[No subject] - by Rob - 03-05-2004, 01:20 PM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 03-05-2004, 06:30 PM
Re: - by Larry Kelsey - 03-06-2004, 07:44 AM

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)